Monday, July 27, 2015

Why is The Strain's apocalypse so underwhelming when it should be the best thing on television?

I like pretty much anything science fiction. This weekend I watched Lavalantula and Two Headed Shark Attack. I thought Three Headed Shark Attack was threatening to overdose me on The Asylum's particular brand of terrible movies, so I'll spare you a review. And let's face it, it was all just filler for the normal Sunday night shows that I indulge this time of year: True Detective, Falling Skies (on its last season), and The Strain.

Aside from arguing with my friend Adam over who is the "True Detective" of season two, our other conversations tend to circle around "The Strain." This season, the vampire apocalypse has full on struck New York City. Vampires wander the alleys and streets in packs doing "The Master's" bidding while our would-be group of heroes from season one are cooking up a "strain" of their own that will infect vampires and essentially kill them.

Guillermo del Toro's handiwork is evident in the exploration of vampire biology which ends up being intriguing enough to stick with the show week after week. We are also fed nuggets of information about the vampires. We've learned there is more than one master, and they are not fond of one of their number going rogue. We've learned that Abraham is 94 years old and sustains his youth by turning the vampire worms into a boiled down cocktail that he injects into his eyes to give him the strength of someone thirty to forty years younger. And we've also learned that no one in New York City really seems to care that people are dying everywhere.

This is one of the things that I thought I Am Legend captured so wonderfully in those snippets of all hell breaking lose that we saw through Will Smith's flashbacks. Maybe Fear the Walking Dead (which is supposed to premiere in August) will show how an apocalypse exploding in real time should happen, i.e., widespread panic and people screaming while buildings burn to the ground. Everyone in The Strain just seems so damned calm, and it's weirding me out a bit. "Oh there's a vampire apocalypse? Let's just break into this spa, kill some vamps, and then have sex in the pool." "Oh there's vampires eating people by ejecting six foot snakes from their mouths? No worries, I still need to see your I.D. to get into this place and there's going to be a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new food bank down the street." As far as I can tell, it's business as usual in New York with people going to their jobs and kids attending school. All I can say is...really? Have you not seen the vampires eating your neighbor? Why is traffic on the streets not gridlocked with people trying to get the hell out of New York City?

Anyway, my criticism aside it's not going to make me stop watching. I just am a little flummoxed at this particular representation of an apocalypse.

14 comments:

  1. I hate to say it, but I gave up on The Strain a while ago. As I posted last week, seems so many speculative fiction shows are downers.
    And I skipped last week's Sharknado 3. I'll wait for the RiffTrax version.

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  2. Does Cory Stoll still wear that stupid wig? You've seen Any Man so you know what I mean.

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    1. Look, the wig is the least of the things that I would ever focus on when it comes to The Strain. How about the makers of the show give us some real scares? That would be cool.

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  3. I just don't consider those kinds of shows scifi, to me they're more fantasy. I guess I'm old fashioned or a little hard core. But give me something like Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica ANY day.

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  4. Ive' been disappointed with most sf series this summer. Watched two episodes of AMC's HUMANS (with our gorgeous Colin Morgan) and SyFy's KILLJOYS and couldn't do more.... but I'm still following DOMINION (nom nom on my Tom Wisdom) and DARK MATTER on SyFy.

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  5. Maybe they're going for characters so used to death and destruction that nothing phases them? It doesn't sound like it working.

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  6. But when the world is falling down around your ears, you're going to try to maintain as much normalcy as you can. People hold on to their routines until they can't any longer.

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  7. I haven't seen this, but I did watch Sharknado 3. It wasn't as camp ad I'd hoped, and I was disappointed I didn't get to see Ann Coulter get eaten by a shark.

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  8. That vampire-worms-eye thing sounds disgusting!

    I lasted less than 8 minutes with Sharknado 3.

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  9. Sorry, but I haven't even glanced at The Strain 'cause I've kinda had it up to here with vampires and apocalyptic stories. Besides, I think your review of this show is much more interesting--and yes, even blase, cynical, seen-it-all New Yorkers should have a much stronger reaction!

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  10. Hahaha yeah that sounds strange that a vampire apocalypse isn't causing panic. That said, maybe it's a gradual apocalypse like global warming? No one seems to be panicking about that much either.

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  11. I really want to like the Strain and but it has been tough. Two weeks ago we had a political leader promising to take the fight to the streets and week later she claimed victory in Staten Island but in the same show two New York police officers approach a man in an alley not seeming to care that he looked like he'd come from the set of Nosferatu. Of course both died horribly. Did they miss a memo?

    I understand they have a limited budget but the inconsistencies are really dumb. A big battle would be too expensive but they could give us news reports to set the tone. The biggest issue for me is they seem to want us to believe the rest of the country isn't worried that a vampiric disease is taking over New York. Did the writers pay attention to the Ebola scare last year?

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